ECS Pittsburgh Section News

ECS logoNotes from the Section Chairman

Pittsburgh is gradually evolving to be a hub of education, science and research. The Electrochemical Society bears great relevance to a number of upcoming challenges including energy generation and storage, corrosion, biochemical systems etc., and a number of local universities and companies are perform cutting edge research.

With that in mind, section could act as a forum for fruitful interaction and collaboration. This first newsletter is aimed at reaching out to local members interested in participating and rejuvenating the Pittsburgh Section, which has been dormant for many years. It also aims at giving a information on local activities and events. The newsletter will highlight one research group and their work in electrochemical research and also provide an update of local activities.

Since this is the beginning of a new effort, we would like your feedback with regards to activities of interest. Please take the time to complete the survey and help the officers identify areas of interest. And let us know if there is any news you’d like to see in a future issue.

Thanks,
Cliff Walton
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Wind- and Solar-Powered Car Created from Scraps

By placing the wind turbine under the hood, it allows for air to flow into the grill while the car is moving – subsequently turning the turbine's rotors and charging the battery at the back of the car.Image: Inhabitat

By placing the wind turbine under the hood, it allows for air to flow into the grill while the car is moving – subsequently turning the turbine’s rotors and charging the battery at the back of the car.
Image: Inhabitat

Casey Emilius, ECS’s Meetings Coordinator, spotted an article in Inhabitat on an amazing feat in student ingenuity out of Nigeria.

College student Segun Oyeyiola has transformed a Volkswagen Beetle into a wind- and solar- powered car with just $6,000. By using mostly scrap parts donated by friends and family, Oyeyiola was able to keep costs down and skyrocket the renewable efficiency of the car.

The car is fortified by a strong suspension system to hold the weight of the solar panel on the roof and the wind turbine under the hood – which takes advantage of the airflow produced by the car while it’s in motion.

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Nanoscale Microscopy

The microscope they developed produces x-ray images by scanning a sample while collecting various x-ray signals emerging from the sample.Image: Brookhaven National Laboratory

The microscope they developed produces x-ray images by scanning a sample while collecting various x-ray signals emerging from the sample.
Image: Brookhaven National Laboratory

Researchers have developed a new x-ray microscope that will provide scientists with the opportunity to image nanostructures and chemical reactions down to the nanometer.

The new class of x-ray microscope allows for nanoscale imagining like never before. This development brings researchers one step closer to the ultimate goal of nanometer resolution.

This from Brookhaven National Laboratory:

The microscope manipulates novel nanofocusing optics called multilayer Laue lenses (MLL) — incredibly precise lenses grown one atomic layer at a time — which produce a tiny x-ray beam that is currently about 10 nanometers in size. Focusing an x-ray beam to that level means being able to see the structures on that length scale, whether they are proteins in a biological sample, or the inner workings of a fuel cell catalyst.

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Metrohm Announces Young Chemist Award Winner

MetrohmMetrohm USA and Metrohm Canada have announced Chad Atkins as the winner of the 2015 Young Chemist Award for his research in Raman spectroscopy to assess the degradation of stored red blood cells.

Atkins is currently completing his Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia where he works under the supervision of Robin Turner and Michael Blades. Here, he conducts his research in red blood cells to confirm viability prior to transfusion, which leads to a more successful patient outcome.

This is the third year Metrohm USA and Metrohm Canada have awarded the $10,000 Young Chemist Award.

“Metrohm has a history of giving back to the scientific community,” said Edward Colihan, President & CEO of Metrohm USA. “This year we saw a record number of applications for this award, demonstrating ingenuity and a passion for solving very practical problems. We are proud to support the next generation of scientists.”

Atkins will present a short overview of his work at Metrohm’s press conference at Pittcon 2015 in New Orleans. Take a look at his abstract.

The Young Chemist Award is open to all graduate, post-graduate and doctorate students residing and studying in the U.S. and Canada, who are performing novel research in the fields of titration, ion chromatography, spectroscopy and electrochemistry. For more details, click here.

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Graphene Fights Cancer

Graphene oxide is stable in water and has shown potential in biomedical applications.Image: Oncotarget

Graphene oxide is stable in water and has shown potential in biomedical applications.
Image: Oncotarget

They don’t call it the wonder material for nothing. Since its inception, graphene has shown an amazing array of possibilities – from its potential in renewable resources to its ability to revolutionize electronics. Now, it may even be able to aid in the fight against cancer.

Scientists at the University of Manchester have used graphene to target and neutralize cancer stem cells without harming non-cancerous cells. By taking a modified form of graphene called graphene oxide, the researchers have discovered a quality in the material that acts as an anti-cancer agent that selectively targets cancer stem cells.

The graphene oxide formulations show the potential to treat a broad range of cancers with non-toxic material, including: breast, pancreatic, lung, brain, ovarian, and prostate cancer. The scientist state that if the new treatment were to be combined with existing treatment, it could eventually lead to tumor shrinkage as well as stop the spread of cancer and its reassurance after treatment.

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Is Solar Cheaper than Grid Electricity?

Q3_2014_Price_per_kilowatt_hour_by_RegionIf you haven’t embraced solar energy yet, it may be about time to do so. After all, it is cheaper than grid energy in 42 of the 50 largest cities in the United States.

According to the study “Going Solar in America: Ranking Solar’s Value in America’s Largest Cities,” a fully financed solar system costs less than residential grid energy purchased in over 80 percent of the largest U.S. cities. Additionally, 9.1 million single-family homeowners live in a place where their utility bill outpaces what solar would cost.

The falling cost of solar panels and solar fuel cells is largely driven by, in part, research into new materials and developments in the sciences. Check out a few interesting reads on solar energy from the ECS Digital Library:

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ECS IE&EE Divison Student Awards

ECS’s Industrial Electrochemistry and Electrochemical Engineering Division (IE&EE) has presented two distinguished student awards to be accepted at the 227th ECS Meeting this May in Chicago, IL.
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HasaniSadrabadi-blogThe IE&EE Student Achievement Award will be presented to Mohammad Mahdi Hasani-Sadrabadi of the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Hasani-Sadrabadi is currently a graduate researcher studying bioengineering at Georgia Tech. Aside from his current studies, Hasani-Sadrabadi spent time at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, where he developed microfluidic platforms for controlled synthesis of polymeric nanoparticles. In 2007, he began his research on fuel cells while at Amirkabir University of Technology. He continued to establish the Biologically-Inspired Developing Advanced Research (BiDAR) group as an international collaborative research time. His main research area of interest is the development of bio-inspired nanomaterials for energy and biomedical applications. Take a peek at Hasani-Sadrabadi’s award address: “Anhydrous High-Proton Conductor Based on Ionic Nanopeapods.”

The IE&EE Student Achievement Award was established in 1989 to recognize promising young engineers and scientists in the field of electrochemical engineering and to encourage participants to initiate careers in this field. Continue reading

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Old Battery Type to Compete with Li-ion

nimhWhen it comes to battery research and technology, people are constantly looking toward the lithium-ion battery to see the next big breakthrough. However, researchers at the chemical company BASF are showcasing and older battery type as a strong competitor against the li-ion.

BASF researchers are taking the nickel-metal hydride battery (NiMH) and giving it a boost to lead to cheaper electric cars. The assumption for electric car makers it that improvements in the lithium-ion battery will make cars cheaper and extend their driving range. While that may be true, the NiMH may also be able to do this with a little improvement.

The chemical company has already been able to double the amount of energy these old battery types can store, thus making them comparable to the lithium-ion. Researchers also state that there is still much room for improvement – with the potential to increase energy storage by an additional eight times.

Further, the batteries are set to cost roughly half as much as the cheapest lithium-ion battery.

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Member Spotlight – Edward Brightman & Gareth Hinds

Brightman (right) and Hinds (left) have developed a novel electrode to boost green hydrogen research.Image: National Physical Laboratory

Brightman (left) and Hinds (right) have developed a novel electrode to boost green hydrogen research.
Image: National Physical Laboratory

ECS members Edward Brightman and Gareth Hinds of the National Physical Laboratory have developed a novel reference electrode that will aid in the development of hydrogen production technologies for renewable energy storage.

Both Brightman and Hinds will present their work on reference electrodes at the 227th ECS Meeting in Chicago this May. (Get an advanced look at that presentation here.)

Brightman and Hinds’ work deals with polymer electrolyte membrane water electrolysers (PEMWEs), which convert electricity and water into hydrogen and oxygen using two electrodes separated by a solid polymer electrolyte. While scientists have been looking and PEMWEs as a promising technology for some time now, researchers have been stifled in utilizing them due to the expensive catalyst materials needed and the general poor understanding of the degradation of these catalysts.

Now, Brightman and Hinds have tackled this issue by finding a way to produce PEMWEs with a cost-effective design and extended lifetime. This development allows for in situ measurement of the electrochemical process at the anode and the cathode.

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Paper-like Material to Boost Li-ion Batteries

The newly developed silicon nanofiber structure allow the battery to be cycled hundreds of times without significant degradation.Image: Nature Scientific Reports

The newly developed silicon nanofiber structure allows the battery to be cycled hundreds of times without significant degradation.
Image: Nature Scientific Reports

Electric cars and personal electronics may get the battery boost they need with this new development in lithium-ion batteries.

Researchers from the University of California, Riverside have created silicon nanofibers that are 100 times thinner than human hair, which will provide the potential to boost the amount of energy that can be delivered per unit weight of the batteries.

The research has been detailed in the paper “Towards Scalable Binderless Electrodes: Carbon Coated Silicon Nanofiber Paper via Mg Reduction of Electrospun SiO₂ Nanofibers.”

This from University of California, Riverside:

The nanofibers were produced using a technique known as electrospinning, whereby 20,000 to 40,000 volts are applied between a rotating drum and a nozzle, which emits a solution composed mainly of tetraethyl orthosilicate (TEOS), a chemical compound frequently used in the semiconductor industry. The nanofibers are then exposed to magnesium vapor to produce the sponge-like silicon fiber structure.

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